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A Midsummer Night's Dream by Felix Mendelssohn

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Madeline Clement

on 9 December 2013

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Transcript of A Midsummer Night's Dream by Felix Mendelssohn

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
February 3, 1809 - November 4, 1847
-born to Abraham Mendelssohn and Lea Salomon in Hamburg
-3 siblings: Fanny, Paul, and Rebecka
-regarded as a child prodigy
-family moved to Berlin in 1811
-father renounced Jewish religion and tried to change the family name to Bartholdy
-Felix kept the name Mendelssohn, but signed letters as "Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy"

Felix aged 12
Musical Career
Education & Early Life
-began piano lessons in 1815, when he was 6
-tutored by Marie Bigot in Paris the next year
-Felix and Fanny begin studying music with Carl Zelter in Berlin
-first public concert appearance at age 9, in 1818
-wrote 12 string symphonies between the ages of 12 and 14
-in 1814, wrote his first full orchestra symphony
-at age 17 in the year 1826, wrote the Overture in E major, Op. 21 of
A Midsummer Night's Dream
by William Shakespeare
-Overture premiered in Stettin (now called Szczecin, in Poland) on February 20, 1827
-a young Felix traveled 80 miles through a raging snowstorm to get to the concert
Musical Career
Conducting and Composition
-visits England for the first time and conducts a revival of Bach's
St Matthew's Passion
-death of former teacher Carl Zelter in 1833; Felix applies for his position as director of Berlin Singakademie - is rejected
-appointed director of Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra in 1835
-the next year, he fell in love and married Cecile Jeanreneaud
-traveled frequently to England, where he played for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert
-in 1842, 16 years after the Overture was written, composed incidental music for
A Midsummer Night's Dream
and adjusted the Overture
-conducted his Scottish Symphony and the overture, followed by a solo Beethoven piano concerto
-played his oratorio Elijah at the Birmingham Festival in 1846
-exhaustion from his tour in England combined with the recent death of his beloved sister Fanny put him in poor health
-had a series of strokes in the second half of October 1847, died in the following November at 38 years old

String Octet in E-Flat Major
, written when he was sixteen.
Overture in E major, Op. 21
-incorporated both classical and romantic elements
-written in sonata form
has 4 sections: exposition, development, recapitulation, and coda
-introduces character themes, and 3 types of comedy present in Shakespeare's play
-calls for two clarinets, two flutes, two oboes, two bassoons, two horns, two trumpets, an ophicleide (usually replaced with a tenor tuba), timpani, and a variety of strings
-originally composed for two pianos, so Felix and Fanny could play it together

1. About Felix Mendelssohn
early composition
later life
2. Overture Overview
3. Analysis of Overture
4. Incidental Music
-introduces themes for the piece
-four opening chords signify the two young couples in the play (Lysander and Hermia, Demetrius and Helena) wandering into the enchanted wood
-Fairy Theme: pitter-patter of fairy feet illustrated by fast, staccato strings; changes to E minor
-Transitional Theme: loud, lots of ascending and descending patterns
-Young Lovers' Theme: strings heard again; lyricism and expressive motifs
-Clown's Theme: loud and disorderly
-Closing: based on the transitional theme, but softer
-plays off the fairy theme
-develops chord progressions, and adds a melody similar to the transitional theme above the strings in the high woodwinds
-builds tension
-in E minor, like the theme in the exposition
-essentially a repeat of the exposition
-plays all the themes with the same elements present
-begins with four opening chords
-slightly altered, with more focus on the whole orchestra as opposed to the strings
-opens with fairy theme
-transitional theme is heard again at a much slower tempo
-high strings play the transitional theme through the coda
-piece ends with a final repeat of the four beginning chords

Incidental Music
: dominated by winds and strings; leads into the next melodrama
Ye Spotted Snakes
: a vocal piece
: like the scherzo, leads into the next act
: accompanies the mortal lovers to sleep
Wedding March
: most famous of the pieces in Mendelssohn's scoring of the play; intermezzo between acts IV and V
Dance of Clowns
: a brief piece that grows off motifs from the overture
: brings back the fairy theme, and ends in the four woodwind chords to conclude the play
Oberon and Titania Quarrel
, by Joseph Noel Paton
A Presentation and Analysis by Casey Gallivan, Vicky Huang, and Madeline Clement
"If you really feel for what is beautiful, if it truly gladdens you, then your mind becomes enlarged rather than narrowed."
-Felix Mendelssohn in a letter to his sister Rebecka
Full transcript